Mea Culpa. I am now on the Datone Jones bandwagon.
He had 19 tackles for a loss in 14 games this season. He’s strong enough at the point to push his blocker into the backfield — something we recently highlighted as a key need for Bill Walsh defensive tackles. He also has a good enough first step, repertoire of moves (swim, spin, club, rip) and explosion to shoot a gap and make his presence known.
One of my big issues is execution. Given how often Jones has success in 1v1 battles, he should be even more productive. I’m a little surprised watching the tape that he only manufactured 6.5 sacks in 2012.
Actually, Sports-reference.com only has him down for 5.5 sacks last year, but that's beside the point. I had no idea that Jones' numbers were that good last year. 5.5 sacks is more than solid even for a hybrid player, but the 19 TFL's really caught my eye. TFL is one of my favorite stats because it is essentially a measure of dominance.
The reason I initially didn't like Jones was because I saw two games of his and didn't see the upper body strength or block shedding techniques, nor did I see production. He was a stonewall machine. But with numbers like those, I have to assume I just caught a poor sample. I watched the Stanford game at the end of the season a few days ago, and he was sensational in that game against one of the best offensive lines in college football. Then I watched the combine where I thought he was easily the fastest/quickest DT in the draft.
And today I saw the Senior Bowl practice video from your article, and it's clear that he has rare quickness. He dominated. In fact, he even looked like one of the quickest DEs when he lined up out there. Last week I thought it was funny how Datone Jones' 40 time was actually faster than Bjoern Werner's. I'm not laughing anymore.
But I think what really struck me was how Jones, at least based on what youtube provides us, seemed to get better as the season went on, during a season where he was showing massive statistical improvement. Jones TFL number compared to his previous season almost tripled. Could it be that Jones is a rising star? Maybe, maybe not. But the signs are there. That's worth a #25 pick, IMO.